Joseph Scales who is at present an ICS Early Career Research Associate will be taking up a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Agder in Norway from August 2023. We offer him our congratulations on this award.

Joseph writes about the research which he will be undertaking on 'Fighting Talk – Motivating Violence in Ancient Judaism [FTMVAJ']:

People resort to violence for all kinds of reasons. In the interests of peace, it is essential to understand how people may be incited toward organised violence. For example, in warfare, combatants are often incited towards their actions by others. In the ancient world, such incitement often took the form of a pre-battle speech. Greek, Roman and Jewish literature contains many examples of such speeches. Recent research  suggests that the specifics of how such speeches are constructed are a mediation between accepted forms of style within an author’s experience of other literary works (e.g., Thucydides), and the experience they may have had either as a combatant or commander who gave such a speech themselves. Yet ancient Jewish battle speeches, often found in texts which make up the Bible, are not currently understood either as reflective of motivations towards violence, or counterparts to Greek and Roman examples. Therefore, FTMVAJ will examine examples of pre-battle speeches recorded in ancient Jewish literature, to determine how such speeches reflect motivations towards violence within Judaism, how such speeches draw from and respond to other literary templates, and to further explore the relationship between literary representations of pre-battle exhortations and their oral counterparts.

The principal goal of FTMVAJ is to gather and analyse a comprehensive group of ancient Jewish pre-battle exhortations, using appropriate methodological considerations including linguistic analysis, the identity of the speaker and audience both within the narrative and as a literary work, and intertextuality. Additionally, I will create a suitable framework for understanding these collected speeches and explicate common features. These features will be further compared with Greek and Roman counterparts to examine the relationship between Jewish and non-Jewish examples of ancient pre-battle speech.